Monday, June 9, 2014

Ecological Risk Research Agenda for Synthetic Biology

An Ecological Risk Research Agenda for Synthetic Biology

Report Developed by the Ecological Community Highlights Priority Research Areas

WASHINGTONMay 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Environmental scientists and synthetic biologists have for the first time developed a set of key research areas to study the potential ecological impacts of synthetic biology, a field that could push beyond incremental changes to create organisms that transcend common evolutionary pathways.

[caption id="attachment_200" align="alignleft" width="600"]Ecological Risk Research Agenda for Synthetic Biology Ecological Risk Research Agenda for Synthetic Biology[/caption]

The Synthetic Biology Project at the Wilson Center and the Program on Emerging Technologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology convened the interdisciplinary group of scientists and are releasing the report, Creating a Research Agenda for the Ecological Implications of Synthetic Biology. The work was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"We hope this report raises awareness about the lack of research into these ecological issues," says Dr. James Collins, Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment at Arizona State University and former Director of the Population Biology and Physiological Ecology Program and Assistant Director of Biological Sciences at NSF. "We involved experts in the ecological research and synthetic biology communities to help identify priority research areas – and we believe the report can be a roadmap to guide the necessary work. The rapid pace of research and commercialization in the field of synthetic biology makes it important to begin this work now."

The report prioritizes key research areas for government agencies, academia and industry to fund. Research areas include species for comparative research; phenotypic characterization; fitness, genome stability and lateral gene transfer; control of organismal traits; monitoring and surveillance; modeling and standardization of methods and data.

In developing the report, various applications were used to stimulate discussion among synthetic biologists, ecologists, environmental scientists and social scientists, as well as representatives from government, the private sector, academia, environmental organizations and think tanks. Applications considered in the process included bio-mining; nitrogen fixation by engineered crops; gene drive propagation in populations of invasive species; and engineered seeds and plants destined for distribution to the public.

The report says it is necessary to establish and sustain interdisciplinary research groups in order to conduct the research. Long-term support is also needed to address complex questions about how synthetic biology could impact the environment and overcome communication barriers across disciplines, the report says.

The report can be downloaded from the Synthetic Biology Project website:

About the Synthetic Biology Project
The Synthetic Biology Project is an initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Project aims to foster informed public and policy discourse concerning the advancement of synthetic biology. For more information, visit:

About the MIT Program on Emerging Technologies
The Center for International Studies (CIS) aims to support and promote international research and education at MIT. The CIS Program on Emerging Technologies (PoET) seeks to improve responses to implications of emerging technologies. PoET was created with support of an NSF IGERT. Research has included retrospective studies on past emerging technologies led byMerritt Roe SmithLarry McCray and Daniel Hastings, as well as prospective studies on next-generation internet (led by David D. Clark) and synthetic biology (led by Kenneth A. Oye). For more information, visit:

About The Wilson Center
The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world. For more information, visit:

 SOURCE Synthetic Biology Project

News Release Source :  An Ecological Risk Research Agenda for Synthetic Biology

Challenges and Options for Oversight of Organisms Engineered Using Synthetic Biology

Venter Institute-Led Policy Group Publishes Report on Challenges and Options for Oversight of Organisms Engineered Using Synthetic Biology Technologies

ROCKVILLE, Md. and SAN DIEGOMay 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Policy researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), the University of Virginia, and EMBO today released a report detailing the challenges faced by regulators with the increased use of more sophisticated synthetic biology technologies to engineer plants and microbes and some options for dealing with these challenges.

[caption id="attachment_196" align="alignleft" width="300"]Challenges and Options for Oversight of Organisms Engineered Using Synthetic Biology Challenges and Options for Oversight of Organisms Engineered Using Synthetic Biology[/caption]

The authors conclude that while the United States governmental agencies tasked with oversight of products derived through synthetic biology have adequate legal jurisdiction to address most, but not all, environmental, health and safety concerns, several key issues could challenge these agencies including: the advent of newer plant engineering technologies that are outside the authority of some agencies, and increased use of more complex engineered microbes that could overwhelm regulators both from a science and safety review and increasing cost perspective.

Genetic engineering to make relatively minor manipulations of small numbers of genes in plants, microbes, and animals has been utilized in science and biotechnology to develop products since the 1980s. Three agencies are tasked with oversight of genetically engineered organisms—the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Through the years these agencies have successfully reviewed products for potential environmental, health and safety concerns, and have also issued regulations and industry guidelines.

Over the last five years breakthroughs and advances in the new field of synthetic biology—the newest generation of genetic engineering—are enabling construction and synthesis of whole genes and genomes opening even more new avenues for product development in many industries including new food and nutritional products, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, and biofuels.

With these advances in mind, the JCVI led team examined how well APHIS, EPA, and FDA will be able to review the potential rapid increase of new plants and microbes developed using synthetic biology. They found areas of concern and offered the following options for oversight.

Genetically Engineered Plants
APHIS has reviewed engineered plants for the past 25 years. This authority is based on genetic engineering technology that uses plant pests or some component of plant pests. Synthetic biology is accelerating development and use of new genetically engineered plants that fall outside APHIS' purview and thus without regulatory review before potential use in the environment.  The authors outline the following options:

  1. Maintain existing regulatory system and rely on a voluntary approach for those genetically engineered plants not subject to review.

  2. Identify the most likely risks from newer plant biotechnology and apply existing laws that would best mitigate them.

  3. Give APHIS additional authority to review and regulate genetically engineered plants.

  4. Distribute rules under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) or the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for EPA to regulate engineered plants.

Genetically Engineered Microbes
Synthetic biology is enabling a larger number of increasingly more complex engineered microbes for commercial use, particularly those intended for use in the open environment. This influx may overwhelm the EPA's Biotechnology Program both from an expertise and funding perspective. The policy team outlined the following options for consideration to help alleviate any regulatory delays or deficiencies for microbial products:

  1. If and when needed, provide additional funding for EPA's Biotechnology Program under TSCA and pursue efficiency measures to expedite reviews.

  2. Amend TSCA to strengthen EPA's ability to regulate engineered microbes.

"Synthetic biology offers great promise for a new and improved generation of genetically engineered microbes, plants, and animals," said Robert Friedman, Ph.D., JCVI's Vice President for Policy.  "To achieve this promise, the public must be assured that the U.S. regulatory agencies are able to review these products as effectively as they have over the past two decades.  Our report identifies several issues and options for policymakers to update the current U.S, regulatory system for biotechnology."

The report is funded by the United States Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research with additional support from the Sloan Foundation. Authors of the report are: Sarah R. Carter, Ph.D., JCVI; Michael Rodemeyer, J.D.,University of VirginiaMichele S. Garfinkel, Ph.D., EMBO, GermanyRobert M. Friedman, Ph.D., JCVI. The full report can be downloaded here:

About the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI)
The JCVI is a not-for-profit research institute in Rockville, MD and San Diego, CA dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics; the understanding of its implications for society; and communication of those results to the scientific community, the public, and policymakers. Founded by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., the JCVI is home to approximately 250 scientists and staff with expertise in human and evolutionary biology, genetics, bioinformatics/informatics, information technology, high-throughput DNA sequencing, genomic and environmental policy research, and public education in science and science policy. The legacy organizations of the JCVI are: The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), The Center for the Advancement of Genomics (TCAG), the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA), the Joint Technology Center (JTC), and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation. The JCVI is a 501 (c)(3) organization. For additional information, please visit

 SOURCE J. Craig Venter Institute

News Release Source :  Venter Institute-Led Policy Group Publishes Report on Challenges and Options for Oversight of Organisms Engineered Using Synthetic Biology Technologies

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Synthetic Biology Market is Expected to Reach $38.7 Billion, Globally, by 2020

Synthetic Biology Market is Expected to Reach $38.7 Billion, Globally, by 2020 - Allied Market Research

PORTLAND, OregonMay 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

According to a new report by Allied Market Research, titled "Global Synthetic Biology Market (Products, Technologies, Applications and Geography) - Global Opportunity Analysis and Forecast - 2013 - 2020", the global synthetic biology market is forecast to reach $38.7 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 44.2% during the forecast period (2014 - 2020). Europe occupies largest share in the global market and would hold-on to its position throughout 2020. However, Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 46.4% from 2014 - 2020.

[caption id="attachment_191" align="aligncenter" width="665"]Synthetic Biology Market is Expected to Reach $38.7 Billion, Globally, by 2020 Synthetic Biology Market is Expected to Reach $38.7 Billion, Globally, by 2020[/caption]

Synthetic biology is at a nascent stage and has recently entered the commercial market. Many technologies that utilize synthetic biology are yet to be commercialized, and are waiting for approvals from the respective regional regulatory bodies. However, this market is expected to witness adoption in varied domains, with chemicals, pharmaceuticals, energy and agriculture, as some major application markets. Key factors fueling the growth of this market include assistance from government and private organizations, rising number of entities conducting research and declining cost of DNA sequencing and synthesizing. Bio-safety & bio-security and ethical issues are key restraining factors of the market. The fact that synthetic biology can be misused has raised concerns all around the world. However, as far as the market dynamics are considered, the bottom line is that the overall impact of these factors would be highly positive.

To view the complete report, visit the website at

Global synthetic biology market is segmented based on product, technology, application, and geography. Synthetic biology product market is further segmented into enabling products, enabled products and core products. Enabling product is the fastest growing segment in the product market due to ongoing researches that may bring-innovative ideas for application of synthetic biology in new fields. Thus, the need for enabling products, during R&D activities and in the development of enabled products, would rise.

DNA synthesis is the largest segment within enabling products segment, whereas oligonucleotide synthesis is expected to be fastest growing market at 57.8% CAGR during 2014 and 2020. Chassis organism would be the fastest growing core product during the forecast period with synthetic DNA occupying largest market share. Other core products included in the study are synthetic genes, synthetic sells, and XNA. Biofuels, within enabled product segment, is expected to exhibit tremendous growth; registering a CAGR of 110.1% during forecast period. However, synthetic biology-based pharmaceuticals and diagnostics products will generate largest amount of revenue within enabled product segment followed by agriculture and chemicals sub-segments.

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Global Forensic Technologies Market -

Synthetic biology technology market is segmented into enabling technology and enabled technology. Enabling technologies segment is growing speedily, with a CAGR of 48.6% during the forecast period. The market by application includes research & development, chemicals, agriculture, pharmaceuticals & diagnostics, biofuels and others. Biofuels is the fastest growing segment during the forecast period. In terms of geography, Europe is the largest revenue-generating segment, whereas Asia Pacific would experience the highest growth rate during the forecast period.

Browse all diagnostics and Biotech market report at

Competitive analysis of the companies reveals that most of the companies are concentrating on agreements followed by product launch for the expansion of their business. Synthetic biology is a novel technology and the value chain of a product manufacturing includes steps that require collaborative efforts by two or more companies. This is the key reason for agreements among the companies. Most of the agreements were related to the development of products for chemical industries, followed by biofuels and synthetic genes industries. Product launch holds second highest share in strategies adopted by key players accounting for about 32% of the strategic moves by key companies. Companies profiled in the report include BASF, GEN9 Inc., Algenol Biofuels, Codexis Inc., Gensript Corporation, Dupont, Butamax Advanced Biofuels, BioAmber, BioSearch Technologies, Inc., Origene Technologies, Inc. and Synthetic Genomics, Inc.

Market Segments Covered

Synthetic Biology Market by Products

Enabling Products

DNA Synthesis

Oligonucleotide Synthesis

Enabled Products





Core Products

Synthetic DNA

Synthetic Genes

Synthetic Cells


Chassis Organisms

Synthetic Biology Market by Technology

Enabling Technology

Genome Engineering

Microfluidics technologies

DNA synthesis & sequencing technologies

Bioinformatics technologies

Biological components and integrated systems technologies

Enabled Technology

Pathway engineering

Synthetic microbial consortia

Biofuels technologies

Synthetic Biology Market by Application

Research & Development



Pharmaceuticals & Diagnostics


Others (Environment, Biotechnology & Biomaterials, etc.)

Synthetic Biology Market by Geography

North America


Asia Pacific


About Us:

Allied Market Research (AMR) is a full-service market research and business consulting wing of Allied Analytics LLP based inPortland, Oregon. Allied Market Research provides global enterprises as well as medium and small businesses with unmatched quality of "Market Research Reports" and "Business Intelligence Solutions". AMR has a targeted view to provide business insights and consulting to assist its clients to make strategic business decisions and achieve sustainable growth in their respective market domain.

We are in professional corporate relations with various companies and this helps us in capturing most accurate market data and confirms utmost accuracy of our market forecasts. Each and every data presented in the reports published by us is also extracted through primary interviews with top officials from leading companies of domain concerned. Our secondary data procurement methodology includes deep online and offline research and discussion with knowledgeable professionals and analysts in the industry.

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SOURCE Allied Market Research

News Release Source :  Synthetic Biology Market is Expected to Reach $38.7 Billion, Globally, by 2020 - Allied Market Research

Synthetic Biology Still in Uncharted Waters of Public Opinion

Synthetic biology still in uncharted waters of public opinion

Focus group concerns centered on specific applications of the technology

The Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is releasing the results of a new set of focus groups, which find continued low awareness of synthetic biology among the general public.

The focus groups also sought opinions on the emerging field of neural engineering.

The focus group results support the findings of a quantitative national poll conducted by Hart Research Associates in January 2013, which found just 23 percent of respondents reported they had heard a lot (6 percent) or some (17 percent) about synthetic biology.

The focus group discussions also reinforce earlier findings that specific applications impact people's hopes and anxieties around synthetic biology. For example, medical applications including disease cures gained the most support in the focus groups, while the biological production of chemicals and food additives received little to no support.

Participants focused their concern on unforeseen, unintended consequences that might occur from synthetic biology. There was a clear and strong desire to study and monitor the potential risks of synthetic biology, which may require a variety of organizations.

For the first time, the focus groups also sought opinions on neural engineering – an area of science that uses engineering and brain science to build devices to support brain control of prosthetic or robotic devices in humans. In contrast to synthetic biology, participants in these sessions found few downsides to neural engineering applications that could help people with motor disabilities or who have lost a limb.

To the extent unease surfaced about neural engineering, participants were concerned about inequitable access to the technologies. There was little concern about the adverse consequences of neural engineering beyond the individual patient, unlike applications of synthetic biology, which participants feared could have much broader implications for society and the environment.

Because this is qualitative research among only a small number of individuals, the findings from these two focus groups cannot be generalized to represent the entire population of adults in the United States. Rather, these qualitative findings provide context for evaluating the 2013 survey findings and depth of understanding about how these audiences respond to these areas of science and their potential applications.


The focus groups were conducted in Maryland in April 2014. The full report and video clips from the focus groups, as well as the 2013 survey report, can be found here:

About the Synthetic Biology Project

The Synthetic Biology Project is an initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Project aims to foster informed public and policy discourse concerning the advancement of synthetic biology. For more information, visit:

About The Wilson Center

The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world. For more information, visit:

News Release Source :  Synthetic biology still in uncharted waters of public opinion

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Scientists Use DNA Origami to Create 2-D Structures

Nano-Platform Ready: Scientists Use DNA Origami to Create 2-D Structures

June 2, 2014

Scientists at New York University and the University of Melbourne have developed a method using DNA origami to turn one-dimensional nano materials into two dimensions. Their breakthrough, published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, offers the potential to enhance fiber optics and electronic devices by reducing their size and increasing their speed.

[caption id="attachment_183" align="alignleft" width="500"]Scientists Use DNA Origami to Create 2-D Structures Scientists Use DNA Origami to Create 2-D Structures[/caption]

"We can now take linear nano-materials and direct how they are organized in two dimensions, using a DNA origami platform to create any number of shapes," explains NYU Chemistry Professor Nadrian Seeman, the paper's senior author, who founded and developed the field of DNA nanotechnology, now pursued by laboratories around the globe, three decades ago.

Seeman's collaborator, Sally Gras, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, says, "We brought together two of life's building blocks, DNA and protein, in an exciting new way. We are growing protein fibers within a DNA origami structure."

DNA origami employs approximately two hundred short DNA strands to direct longer strands in forming specific shapes. In their work, the scientists sought to create, and then manipulate the shape of, amyloid fibrils—rods of aggregated proteins, or peptides, that match the strength of spider's silk.

To do so, they engineered a collection of 20 DNA double helices to form a nanotube big enough (15 to 20 nanometers—just over one-billionth of a meter—in diameter) to house the fibrils.

The platform builds the fibrils by combining the properties of the nanotube with a synthetic peptide fragment that is placed inside the cylinder. The resulting fibril-filled nanotubes can then be organized into two-dimensional structures through a series of DNA-DNA hybridization interactions.

"Fibrils are remarkably strong and, as such, are a good barometer for this method's ability to form two-dimensional structures," observes Seeman. "If we can manipulate the orientations of fibrils, we can do the same with other linear materials in the future."

Seeman points to the promise of creating two-dimensional shapes on the nanoscale.

"If we can make smaller and stronger materials in electronics and photonics, we have the potential to improve consumer products," Seeman says. "For instance, when components are smaller, it means the signals they transmit don't need to go as far, which increases their operating speed. That's why small is so exciting—you can make better structures on the tiniest chemical scales."

Other NYU researchers included Anuttara Udomprasert, Ruojie Sha, Tong Wang, Paramjit Arora, and James W. Canary.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health (GM-29554), the National Science Foundation (CMMI-1120890, CCF-1117210), the Army Research Office (MURI W911NF-11-1-0024), the Office of Naval Research (N000141110729, N000140911118), an Australian Nanotechnology Network Overseas Travel Fellowship, a Melbourne Abroad Travelling Scholarship, the Bio21 Institute and Particulate Fluids Processing Centre. The work was carried out, in part, at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

News Release Source :  Nano-Platform Ready: Scientists Use DNA Origami to Create 2-D Structures